LEADER of Opposition Hon Matthew Wale has described a payment of more than SBD $20 million made to Government MPs and certain companies in late 2022 as ‘an abuse of the public finance process’.
Hon Wale made the statement based on the manner in which these funds were reportedly distributed, coupled with the nature of some of the businesses that received the payments.
Details of the payment reaching the Opposition Office indicated that the $20M was paid under the National Transport Initiative (NTI) as machinery and shipping grants.
According to documents obtained by the Opposition Office, the funds that were transferred to MPs, ranging from SBD 2 million to SBD100, 000 were reportedly transferred to their personal bank accounts.
“From the get-go, this already reeks of a serious abuse of process. Why are such payments not paid to the constituency bank accounts? Such large sums of money, transferred directly to MPs reflect no regard for any accountability of public money,” Hon Wale said.
The Opposition Leader said it is clear that the funds are being dished out for purely political gain just like China’s NDF, and only to MPs in the government.
He said this shows the further deterioration in the management of public finances.
“How is this practice responsible use of public funds?” he questioned.
The Leader of Opposition also queried the companies that were also recipients of the $20M payment.
According to reports reaching Opposition Office, Lopia Resort, a listed recipient of an SBD 1-million-dollar payment, is owned by the partner of a senior cabinet minister.
The Opposition Office also crosschecked and confirmed with the company haus to verify the ownership of the company.
Two other companies which were listed as recipients, were deregistered in November 2021 and May 2022 on the company haus website.
Hon Wale also criticised the current approach that MPs should be the preferred choice to make decisions for infrastructure development.
“This puts MPs deciding these allocations in a conflict of interest situation. Clearly this is not the best approach for resource allocation decisions,” he said.
– Opposition Press